History of the Sportster – Harley Davidson Forums: Harley Davidson …


contributions by: docjimbob, Tim Schumacher, Tom Riccio, & Kev Maher and Bruce’s Harley Page (check for History on all HD models).


The Sportster XL was introduced as “a modern, up-to-date power plant.”
55cid 7.5:1 Compression, hemi-spherical style heads, 90 degree valve angle, 4 cams
Production Information:
XL (1983), $1,103

XLH introduced with higher compression and larger valves
Camshaft gears became integrated with the camshafts, eliminating the need for a woodruff key.
Drive gearshaft was enlarged .125 in.
Drive gear and second gear support shaft was enlarged .125 in and had 8 splines (instead of 6).
Choke control lever moved from left side to the air cleaner.
Heavier clutch cover and new gasket.
New oil resistant clutch hub seal and gearshaft o-ring.
Two brush generator.
Optional turn signals and 1 in over suspension.
The XLC & XLCH (Competition/California Hot)
Larger ports and valves
High domed pistons
Light ended tappets
Magneto ignition
Production Information:
XL (579), $1,155
XLH (711)
XLCH (239)

New dual exhaust on XLH with twin mufflers.
Nacelle headlamp on XLH
5 in headlamp with eyebrow on XLCH
Trip-o-meter on XLCH
Nylon chain tensioner
Single switch ignition on left fork
Valanced front fender
End relieved connecting rod bearings
14.5 sec mile (90 mph)
Production Information:
XL (42), $1,175
XLH (947), $1,200
XLCH (1059), $1,285

New shock absorbers.
Production Information:
Sportsters (2,765)
XLH $1,225
XLCH $1,310

Creased edge on fuel tank.
Production Information:
Sportsters (2014)
XLH $1,250
XLCH $1,335

Aluminum upper triple tree.
XLR appeared for TT racing.
Production Information:
Sportsters (1998)
XLH $1,250
XLCH $1,335

Both XLH & XLCH got 1.323:1 3rd gear ratios (were 1.381)
Final ratio 5.56:1 on the H
Final ratio 5.85:1 on the CH
XLCH got “shorty duals”
XLCH got an ignition key and improved magneto/coil
14.3 sec mile (92 mph)
Production Information:
XLH (432), $1,270
XLCH (1,001), $1,355

Chrome panel for XLCH lower fork bracket.
New graphic for the XLH (oil tank).
Full width aluminum brake drum in the front.
Aluminum tappet guides.
Production Information:
XLH (810), $1,295
XLCH (1950), $1,360

XLH and XLCH received a 12 volt electrical system.
XLH got automatic spark advance.
Racing-type ball end levers.
High fidelity horn.
New shocks
3.7 gal fuel tank
Production Information:
XLH (955)
XLCH (2815)

P Cams, race developed intake ports, jumbo valves -> 60 hp
Tillotson diaphragm carb
“Ham-can” air cleaner
Carb heat insulator
Hexagonal tank badge.
Production Information:
XLH (900) $1,415
XLCH (3,900) $1,411
XLRTT (25)

Electric start option.
New shocks
Production Information:
XLH (2,000) $1,650
XLCH (2,500) $1,600

New forks (damping and travel) and the fork boots were canned.
Kick start was dropped from the XLH.
Restyled primary cover.
Peanut tank was an option on the XLH
Production Information:
XLH (1,975) $1,650
XLCH (4,900) $1,600

First use of the exhaust crossover pipe (increases hp by 5 to 58 hp) with stacked duals
New head castings.
Safety bead wheel rims.
Production Information:
XLH (2,700) $1,765
XLCH (5,100) $1,698

XLH got the headlamp eyebrow of the XLCH
Optional boat tail (again in 71)
Magneto ignition on the XLCH replaced with XLH’s points/coil.
First year for XR-750
Production Information:
XLH (3,033)
XLCH (5,527)

Wet clutch with single spring.
Points and condenser moved behind plate on timing case cover.
Production Information:
XLH (3,950)
XLCH (6,825)

The 61 cid (called a 1000cc) XL replaced the 900.
Rated for 61 hp, 9:1 CR, 110+mph, 13.38 sec mile (97.7 mph), and 43 mpg.
Bendix/Zenith carb.
Wet clutch.
New oil pump.
Oil tank placed near chain
Seat is thinner w/less padding.
Production Information:
XLH (7,500) $2,120
XLCH (10,650)

First AMF production Harley
Mandatory turn signals.
New 35mm Kayaba forks, single disc front brakes.
Production Information:
XLH (9,875)
XLCH (10,825)

Throttle used return springs.
Production Information:
XLH (13,295)
XLCH (10,535)
XR (100)

Left hand side gear shifting, right hand side rear brake (Fed mandated)
New 35mm Showa forks.
Production Information:
XLH (13,515)
XLCH (5,895)

Production Information:
XLH (12,844)
XLCH (5,238)

New cases to accommodate the left side shifting.
Frame designed for removal of oil pump with engine in frame.
XLT (touring) became available
included thicker seat
3.5 gallon tank
touring handle bars
saddlebags from FLH
geared higher
XLCR was introduced at Daytona (available again in 78).
cast aluminum wheels
fiberglass tail section w/solo seat
wrinkle black engine paint
bikini fairing
black siamese exhaust
dual disc front brakes
low bars
black paint scheme [on everything]
4 gallon gas tank
68 horses, 9:1 compression, 110 mph
Production Information:
XLH (12,742)
XLCH (4,074)
XLT (1,099)
XLCR (1,923) $3,623

Cast wheels option
Front dual disc brakes
Electronic ignition
Battery and oil tank moved inboard
HD 75th anniversary model XLH
Midnight black w/gold trim
anniversary graphics
gold aluminum wheels
Production Information:
XLH (11,271)
XLH Anniv model (2,323) $3,127
XLCH (2,758) $3,370
XLT (6)

All models got the XLCR frame and exhaust (Siamese).
XLT was dropped from the product line.
Kick starter was dropped.
Disc brakes front and rear.
Hugger model available for the first time.
Last year for XLCH
New model XLS appeared:
Extended forks
16″ rear wheel
siamese exhaust
drag bars on 3.5″ risers
sissy bar w/leather pouch
highway pegs
2 piece seat
chromed rear sprocket
Production Information:
XLH (6,525)
XLCH (141)
XLS -(5,123)
XLCR (9) (?leftover ’78′s?)

A 16 in wheel replaced the XLH 18 in.
Production Information:
XLH (11,841) $5,867
XLS (2,926)

Buy back from AMF
wire or cast wheels options, 16″ or 18″ rear wheel options
buckhorn handlebars
shorty dual exhaust
3.3 gallon, 2.2 gallon tank optional.
shorter front forks
3.3 gallon optional.
Production Information:
XLH (8,442)
XLS (1,660)

Lighter frame
oil tank repositioned
Thicker head gasket w/lower 8:1 compression
Larger rear disc
XLS repositioned the battery
Production Information:
XLH (5,015)
XLS (1,261)

high bars
vacuum advance (VOES?)
3.3 gallon tank option
new seat
less restrictive exhaust.
New model XLX-61: (built to sell for $3,995)
solo seat
peanut tank
staggered dual exhaust
speedo only
9 spoke wheels
vacuum advance (VOES?)
satin finish cases. {only year}
six coil springs in clutch
156 watt generator
loose output roller tranny
output shaft oil seal secured by a bolt on cover
3 generator drive gears
10″ dual front disc brakes.
New model – XR-1000, based on XLX chassis
aluminum SR style heads w/intake ports on right, exhaust on left
polished and bored by Jerry Branch
helicoil inserts where rocker boxes bolt to head,
9:1, XR pistons
light aluminum pushrods
eccentric rocker shafts adjust valve lash
iron cylinders (shortened half an inch to make room for the ‘Branch’ heads)- w/through bolts
vacuum advance-V-fire III breaker less ignition
twin 36mm Dell’Orto carbs
satin textured cases
9 spoke cast wheels
oiled felt air filter
The XR-1000 had 71HP @ 5,600 rpm, 125 mph, 490 lbs
2.5 gallon tank, 2.5 quart oil capacity $6,995.
Production Information:
XLX-61 (4,892) $3,995
XLH (2,230)
XLS (1,616)
XR-1000 (1,018) $6,995

Diaphragm spring clutch (mid year)
Generator replaced by the alternator. (mid year)
XLH used the Peanut tank again.
XR, improved brakes, orange/black HD racing color option
XLH/X/S Single (larger) front disc.
Production Information:
XLX-61 (4,284)
XLH (4,442)
XLS (1,135)
XR-1000 (759)

Production trimmed in anticipation of the Evo XL.
Production Information:
XLX-61 (1,824)
XLH (4,074)
XLS (616)

First year of the Evo Sportster
came in 883 and 1100cc flavors
XLX frame
Aluminum heads and cylinders
hydraulic lifters
34mm fixed-venturi Keihin carb
powder coat frame paint
cast aluminum wheels
solo seat
low bars
speedo only
turn signals double as running lights
30″ seat height
Upgrade package=special paint and trim.
Production Information:
XLH 883 (8,026) $3,995
XLH 883 (2,322) (upgrade)
XLH 1,100 (3,077) $5,199
XLH 1,100 (954) ‘Liberty’

Sportsters 30th Anniversary
first year for the Evo Hugger:
The fork tubes were shortened 2″
revised shock angle
a softer seat at 26.75″, (1.75″ lower than standard)
Production Information:
XLH 883 (4,990)
XLH 883 (2,106) ‘Hugger’
XLH 883 (2,260) (upgrade)
XLH 1,100 (4,018)
XLH 1,100 (600) ‘Anniversary’

new 39mm Fork Tubes replaced the older 35mm unit
new 40mm constant velocity Keihin slide carb
first year for the 1200 (replacing the 1100)
Production Information:
XLH 883 (5,387)
XLH 883 (4,501) ‘Hugger’
XLH 883 (1,893) ‘Sportster Deluxe’
XLH 1,200 (4,752)

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History of the Sportster – Harley Davidson Forums: Harley Davidson …